Christian Orthodox clergy

Christian Orthodox clergy conserve their church forests

The ecology of Ethiopia is vastly understudied and also degrading rapidly due to human activities. Much of the natural landscape has been cleared for agriculture, with one notable exception: the sacred landscapes surrounding churches. These church forests comprise local as well as global ?hotspots? as critical conservation areas for a large portion of Ethiopia?s remaining biodiversity. Vegetation surveys of church forests indicate that church forests house a large proportion of the endangered plant species of Ethiopia. Church forests provide important ecosystem services to local people, including fresh water, pollinators, honey, shade, and spiritual value. In January 2009, we forged a partnership with the Christian Orthodox clergy to conserve their church forests.

Academy Contributors

“Canopy Meg” Lowman, PhD
Lindsay Chair of Botany/Senior Scientist in Plant Conservation


Church Forests of Ethiopia

Dr. Meg Lowman and Dr. Alemayehu Wassie Eshete discuss the environmental and social value of the stone wall constructed around the Zhara church forest, Ethiopia.

Beza, Who Saved the Forests of Ethiopia, One Church at a Time – A Conservation Story

BEZA is the story of an Ethiopian girl who is helping to conserve the last forests and biodiversity of northern Ethiopia. BEZA not only inspires girls to pursue science, but she also illustrates the power of kids to seek global solutions.